Student Newspaper Adviser Placed on Leave; Retaliation for Paper’s Gung-Ho Coverage?

Warren Swil, the adviser of the Courier campus newspaper at California’s Pasadena City College, has been suddenly and mysteriously placed on administrative leave.

PCC officials are saying it is due to an allegation of misconduct of some kind.  But early press coverage indicates many students and faculty feel the case against Swil, also a PCC journalism professor, is built atop little more than vengeance.  The bottom line, in respect to the latter: The school has been going through a rough patch lately, and the Courier has been doggedly covering it.  (See screenshots of two recent front pages below.)

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Retired PCC journalism professor and former Courier adviser Mikki Bolliger: “It is no secret that the college is in a state of political crisis with two votes of ‘no confidence’ in the president and his administration.  Because of the paper’s coverage of the turmoil, the consensus on campus is that the journalism program has been targeted by the administration.”

The PCC Faculty Association: “It is regrettable in the extreme that the ones to suffer most out of Swil’s forced departure are the students.  The administration’s callous disregard for their interests speaks volumes about its priorities.”

Meanwhile, a portion of the school’s official statement: “On Thursday, March 28, 2013, Pasadena City College assistant professor Warren Swil of the Visual Arts and Media Studies division was placed on paid administrative leave by PCC assistant superintendent and senior vice president of Student and Learning Services, Dr. Robert Bell, pending an independent outside investigation into allegations of misconduct pursuant to a formal complaint recently lodged with Dr. Bell.  The complaint is not connected in any way with professor Swil’s performance as advisor to the student newspaper, the Courier, or with his performance as a journalism teacher.  As this is a confidential personnel matter . . . [t]he college cannot divulge the nature of the complaint filed with Dr. Bell and will make no further comment on this personnel matter.”

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